Summary: Sermon on the golden calf and how God doesn’t allow us to mix religions.
August 31, 2003 Exodus 32-34
When I read the confessions of our Lutheran church, there is not one doctrine that I am embarrassed about or feel is contrary to Scriptures. I am firmly convinced that EVERY teaching is in accordance with God’s Word. That is not to say that we don’t have any teachings that are hard to swallow or offensive to people. One of the most offensive doctrines we have, ironically, is the very doctrine that we have pure doctrine. The reason people get worked up over a claim to true and pure doctrine is because we live in a synchronic society that says - “you believe what you believe, I’ll believe what I believe, and we’ll all get along just fine. We all have different interpretations, but don’t tell me you’re right, because then that insinuates I’m wrong.” It’s much easier just to proclaim the truths of the Bible, without mentioning the fact that we have the truth or somebody else doesn’t. But there’s a danger involved if we never address this idea that there are false religions and doctrines, as sour as it may be. What’s the danger? Today we’ll see how -
“Sinchronicity” Doesn’t Mix With Jealousy
I. You can’t synchronize the LORD
Three times the Israelites promised the LORD that they would do EVERYTHING the LORD told them to do - both before and after they received the Law. Even so, it didn’t take but 40 days for the Israelites to break their promise.
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” . . . All the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” (Ex 32:1-5)
It seems incredible at first glance to think that the Israelites would actually have a golden calf made and claim that it led them out of Israel. How could they be so blind to the many miracles they had seen? How could they deny the LORD so quickly? Were they that influenced by the Egyptian bull god Apis that they would worship it - even after the plagues and what not? It seems incredulous. Yet after further examination, it appears that Aaron and the more “conservative” Israelites tried to somehow appease the minority of the Israelites by combining their religion with this calf god. By building the altar in front of the calf and proclaiming a festival to the LORD, Aaron was seemingly trying to use this bull as a visual representation of the LORD - to claim that they were actually worshiping the LORD THROUGH the bull.
The question is - did it work? Did the LORD accept this “new religion”? How did Jealous respond to their sinchronicity? Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ 9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” (Ex 32:7-10) God would not allow them to combine religions because, like it or not, He is a Jealous God.